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Conversations with the Inspiring Janeane Bernstein

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janeane Bernstein.

Janeane, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
On December 29, 2010, I face-planted into a horrible emotional funk. I couldn’t pull myself out. I received news that my best friend from childhood had suddenly passed away. I could not come to terms with losing her. I did what I usually do for my funks: exercise too much. Exercise is a great outlet for grief, but it wasn’t enough. I needed something to shift my daily thoughts and overall mood. I took some time off from hosting a music show at KUCI 88.9fm and decided to push myself in a new direction – hosting a talk show. I came up with the idea of a radio show that represented how I was feeling and how I needed some levity and optimism to heal.

I liked the idea of a show name that made people laugh in a surprising way, but also made them feel comfortable in sharing their journeys. When “Get the Funk Out!” launched in 2011, I began featuring guests with a wide variety of backgrounds (e.g., actors, authors, directors, filmmakers, health and wellness experts, coaches, etc.), sharing stories and advice on how they overcame life’s funks – personal and professional; this was an incredible way to heal myself and provide an outlet for others to share their stories and insights. These meaningful conversations became the foundation for my first book, which I started in a notebook in 2012, and treated like a dissertation! In the process, I began to heal and grow more than I ever imagined.

The featured guests from my show share personal stories of loss, tragedy, second act careers, health scares, new beginnings, career challenges, overcoming incredible odds, and more. Thrown into the mix is solid advice on how we can overcome life’s unexpected personal and professional curveballs and move forward in a positive direction. After hundreds of conversations, I began to see themes emerging and envisioned a book filled with unique stories and insights.

In 2019, my first book, Get the Funk Out! %^&* Happens, What to Do Next! was published by Post Hill Press and distributed by Simon & Schuster. The audiobook was just released on Audible and I am the narrator. The stories highlight the challenges of unexpected changes, the fear of new beginnings, the misconceptions of mid-life and the hurdles faced by today’s teens, tweens and in-betweens. Research shows they are experiencing very high levels of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Self-care, personal development, resilience, mindfulness, positive psychology, the science of happiness, mental, physical and emotional health are some of the key topics.

Through the challenges of life, we can find ourselves stronger and more resilient than ever. The unexpected moments in life can be just what we needed.

My mantra: What if the worst thing that ever happened to you turned out the best thing that ever happened?

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I was living in Boston in the 1990s and studying acting and voice-over. When I moved here in 2000, I landed an agent and booked some on-camera gigs and joined SAG-AFTRA. Many casting directors told me a very important lesson: you need to have a life outside of acting. You need to do things that nurture you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Having a full life makes you a better actor and brings you calm and resilience. I have had plenty of auditions in the past that filled with self-doubt and negative self-talk. I am over it. I bring my A game to whatever it is I am doing and move on. I don’t take it personally anymore if something wasn’t the right fit. It just wasn’t meant to be, and the right thing will happen when the time is right.

A lot of us struggle with self-doubt and negative self-talk from time to time. I used to let other people’s opinions cloud my own judgment and put a script or idea back in a folder on my desk to collect dust. After my father passed away from cancer in 2015, I decided to start doing all the things I thought were important to pursue. All my creative script ideas, my book, and anything else I planned on doing was written down in a notebook. I also surrounded myself with positive, supportive people. You must leave the toxic ones at the curb. They do nothing for your personal and emotional growth.

My advice for young women starting out would be to find the things you love to do and pursue them. Make time to nurture yourselves creatively, emotionally and physically. Take really good care of yourself inside and out, because this will affect how resilient you are in life. If you eat well, you will feel well. Sleep is important, too. Don’t let technology get in the way of your wellness routines. It’s so easy to get sucked into our screens and forget about self-care and making social connections. Our health and wellness are directly impacted by our choices, so make good decisions when it comes to self-care; this applies to the people you choose to be associated with. I joined Women in Film LA because I am an actor and screenwriter, and I wanted to network with a creative group of supportive women. I have made some wonderful connections with people that support me and show up to prove it!

Don’t get down on yourself or your dreams when things don’t work out the way you planned. Someone once said to me, “Yell PLOT TWIST!” and move on to the next thing. Never feel that one experience is a waste of time. You meet people along the way and take the positive gems from each stage of your life. And make a point of talking to strangers! I have met the most interesting people when I decided to be bold and adventurous, instead of my introverted self. I met my first voiceover teacher through an older actress at a Syracuse University alumni luncheon. She insisted I call her voiceover teacher that day and I did! She was incredibly supportive, and a new chapter opened immediately.

Finally, you will make mistakes, but dust yourself off and get up again. Resilience, grit and a sense of humor are everything. Just keep going.

What should we know about Get the Funk Out show? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a voice actress, radio host, researcher, speaker and author of “GET THE FUNK OUT! %^&* Happens, What to Do Next!” I am so thrilled that my book is exclusively on Audible.com and I am the narrator. It is a really wonderful time going on book tours, hosting events and doing speaking engagements. Never would I have imagined that losing someone would bring me greater insight and a new direction in life.

My friend, Shannon, who passed away had a great quote on her email signature:

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Eliot

I live by this quote and I hope to inspire others to do the same.

I am very proud I created something that touches other people’s lives and has led me to greater fulfillment and purpose. I want to continue to grow and expand my show in new ways this year. I believe I have a show is unique and essential for us to know we are not alone in this rocky ride called life.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
Look up organizations in areas that interest you (e.g., Women in Film – LA, voice-over workout groups, writer’s groups, etc.). Do your homework before you join any organization and look at reviews. Go to a variety of events and see which groups resonate with you personally and professionally. See which people and networking events inspire you and lift you up. Those are the ones you want to be a part of. Also, tap into where you went to school and see if there are networking groups in LA or the surrounding areas.

Talk to friends and colleagues about what they recommend, but in the end, make your own decisions based on your gut and your research. Taking classes is another way to network. I took improvisation classes at the Groundlings and UCB and met some wonderful, supportive people. Depending on what you are interested in, taking classes is a great way to meet people, too.

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Image Credit:
Janeane Bernstein

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